A Procrastinator’s Self Aggrandizment

1

It occurs to me that as I get older, I tend to have fewer of the realizations – the epiphanies – as I experienced as a young person. It’s probably for the best. I take it as a sign that I’m less sure that what I’ve grasped onto is correct; I no longer believe that there is such a thing as truth. This isn’t to say that certain facts are not by definition true, only that my subjectivity is incredibly limiting, and I do not know that what I would take as science would really be more than hearsay.

2

Case in point – I recently had a fight with my significant other. I think we may still be fighting. I think we’ve been fighting since the day we met, but we refuse to acknowledge it. I no longer believe that we are fighting with each other. I’m beginning to suspect that we are at war with ourselves instead – with reality as we know it and the disappointments and fear of disappointment therein. Perhaps this is the very thing that attracts us to one another.

Or not.

It feels as though – and I do find myself relying on feeling more than fact these days – we can see each other so clearly while the other sits in complete darkness of themselves.

It’s as true as anything, I suppose.

3

Case 2 – in a more scientific sense – I believe what I am told about gravity. I believe that there are things called physics and chemistry and biology. I believe these subjects exist, and that those who study them can produce incredible things. Hell, I believe that these sciences built nearly everything I can see. I cannot, however, quite convince myself that the universe in which all of these sciency things dwell actually exists at all. We could very well be living in a simulation. At the very least, we could be but one dimension among many. We could, in ‘fact,’ be one giant organism experiencing itself through some confused circuitry, at war with itself because the nature of the universal body appears to be that of entropy – of the slow dispersal into the chaotic – while the organizing force called electricity seems to be dissipating, dwindling into cold black death.

4

Did I mention that I’m an optimist?

I get obsessed about things. I read stacks of material and listen to hours upon hours of talking heads, and I think that I may be closer to understanding something. Philosophy and economics and sociology and… well… it all feels like the same thing. But then it occurs to me that these subjects are ‘soft.’ They’re observations made of the behavior of people who understand little about those ‘hard’ sciences and even less about their own motivations throughout a given day.

5

And I wonder what I should be doing.

I wonder if I should be doing anything.

There are plenty of things that I could be doing. Focusing on work, whether corporate or my own writing. I could be reading more, learning more, understanding more. I could be opening up these ideas and feelings with the woman who has agreed to be my wife. I could be working toward growing closer to her, expressing my love for her, cementing my future with her, forming shapes of soulmate architecture as the time dries on the canvas of our personal history.

I could be. I should be.

I’m just finding it hard to believe that the old adage is true: Everything worth having requires work. Nothing is free. I cannot just sit around and wallow in the moment. Roses die as you’re sniffing them.

Anyone who’s ever known me knows that all I’m doing now is finding flowerier ways of saying – of lamenting – the things I’ve always fretted about.

Is that what I’m doing?

6

I am trying to get myself to finish writing my novel(s). I get stuck in my head and I’m trying to dig my way out. It’s like this with everything I do: I think. And sometimes thinking feels as good as doing. And sometimes writing shit in a notebook feels as good as saying it out loud. And sometimes saying shit out loud makes everything more real – makes the GOALS take firmer shape – points me in a definitive direction (a course which I can later alter in mid-stride when the real idea comes into focus).

And maybe that’s the realization. The epiphany, as such: I don’t know where I’m going until I’m moving. I never move until my intention is made clear. I never feel that my intentions are clear until they’ve been said – until they’ve been written – until they’ve been read – until I feel heard – until I’ve at least given myself the chance to feel some external validation – until I’ve been given the opportunity to either a) bask in the glory of a “hell yeah!” or b) give the naysayers the finger and do what I want to do anyway.

 

Hedberg with an ‘e’

I miss Mitch Hedberg. I know, I know. Everybody does. But hey… I’m feeling nostalgic. I still find myself mimicking him. I’ll be sitting in my dining room, reading the label of the ketchup for my hotdogs –

“I don’t like calling them hot-dogs, man. Like, dogs, man. Like, Hey, you wanna see my dog? He’s hot. Hehehe Yeah, Man, He’s a hot dog, man… Now let’s eat him with a little ketch-up.”

Clearly, I’m not Mr. Hedberg. But that cadence is fucking addictive. He just let it flow. He’d throw that laugh in the middle of it, and the audience would laugh, and then he’d laugh at the audience, and then the audience would laugh at him laughing at the audience, and then he’s right back into questioning the necessity of bringing ink and paper into this.

I miss where I was when I heard him the first time. He takes me back to it, almost. I was a teenager or maybe just a little older. I was looking for myself. I was searching far and wide – inside and outside – and I kept finding myself in a bad way emotionally; I’d put on one of Mitch’s albums (Yeah, that’s right. I feel like I can call him Mitch like I know him), and he’d just make me fucking giggle. Sometimes that giggle would build into a full bellied laugh, but just that giggle, man. That first couple of jokes where he’d start talking, and you’d just shake your head at the corniness, and then he’d hit you again, and you just couldn’t help yourself, and then… It would just keep coming. An hour full of one-liners, two-liners, three at the most. He’d be all over the map, and he’d keep you right there with him. When people fell off the wagon, he’d gather them all back up again with something like, “Yeah, fuck that joke, man.” That acknowledgement of the crowd made everyone get right back on board.

I could go on and on.

Instead, if you’ve got a couple of hours, and you feel like mourning the loss of greatness one more time with the people who loved him…

Listen to this – with Doug Stanhope and Lynn Shawcroft

Los Enchiladas – Mitch’s movie! Starring the likes of Dave Attell and Todd Barry, as well as some people I don’t recognize. Oh Marc Maron‘s in it. Check it out, man. Hehehe Yeah.

Zombeh 1.1

Tom Stovel and Amy Blithe (35, both) lived in a treehouse on a corner of Hickory Street in Savannah, Georgia. The walls of their top-floor two-bedroom apartment were paper thin, and there were too many windows. It felt just short of camping. Glamping, maybe.

The house was built well before lead paint had been banned. The ceiling fans were installed before bulb sizes had been standardized. The kitchen had been remodeled to include a clothes washer and dryer with a dishwasher in between – about six full paces away from the sink. They could not use more than two appliances in the same room without tripping a fuse, the box for which was hidden behind the refrigerator.

The apartment was a pain in the ass, for sure, but it was oddly comfortable. It was home.

Drew and Foster Effingham (39 and 32 respectively) lived in the apartment below. Instead of glamping, the Effinghams dwelled in the equivalent of a Hobbit’s den – the ceilings were only seven feet high – and the concrete floors of what was once a prototype garage sloped in all directions beneath thin carpet. Their washer and dryer was an afterthought, stowed in the storage space around the side of the house near the trashcans in the alley.

The neighborhood was a grid, as were all neighborhoods in the city. The four of them would sit in their driveway smoking cigarettes and waving to the pedestrians walking their dogs. Savannah, after all, was a dog kind of town. The couples would drink beer and tell stories, getting downright rowdy when the boys had had one too many – when shouting over one another became the only way to be heard.

They never really saw their neighbors doing the same.

The neighbors all owned their land. They built fences around eighth-acre lots for their kids and dogs to play in. They stayed inside and did things that real adults do, venturing out only for the aforementioned walks and bit of light gardening.

“Fucking grown-ups, the bunch of them,” Drew would say. His compatriots would toast in agreement.

*

They knew something was wrong when the power went out. Of course, the power went out regularly in a house built before electricity was a sure thing, but it only ever stayed out for a few hours at a time, usually in the middle of the night when they’d all fallen asleep with all of the switches on. This time, however, it didn’t come back on and blind everyone. They woke up to warming fridges and no internet.

Their cellphones were all dead.

It was going to be a rough day.

Echo: Charlie 1.2

(previously)

Charlie was a robot. An android, if you would like to be technical. Charlie loved to be technical. To be perfectly technical, Charlie was a cyborg. All cyborgs are androids. Not all androids are cyborgs.

Some androids are constructed out of 100% artificial material. Cyborgs are at least partially organic. Charlie was free range organic. Free range in that he ­­­­was left to his own devices out in the world. In society.

Society, Charlie would say, is comprised of a collective – a composite of independent minds coming together to form a single cohesive unit. A society is a supraorganism, and Charlie was allowed to participate. The supraorganism included Charlie.

That made society itself an android – more specifically, a cyborg.

This made Charlie happy.

At least, Charlie assumed that he was happy. All of his systems were functioning properly. His future appeared to be stable. He wanted for nothing. He fit in.

Charlie had a job. Charlie’s job was to take care of those within society who could not (chose not to) take care of themselves. A large section of society had chosen to embrace the android lifestyle, lending their brains (their central processing units) to what was called (and what was technically) The Hive. These individuals pooled their resources in order to create a completely artificial reality, a reality which only they could see. In this reality, anything was possible. Anyone could be who they like. They could do what they like. And because of their infinite well of processing power, they could live a thousand lifetimes in the time it took to sneeze.

Not that Charlie ever sneezed.

Charlie’s skin was real skin. The cartilage in his nose was real cartilage. The hair in his nostrils was real hair. He should have been able to sneeze. But his inventors forgot to include nerve endings in the appropriate places for such a thing.

No, Charlie definitely was not human. Nor would he ever be.

It was not a sad thought. Charlie had no drive to be human. He was programmed. And however sophisticated that programming was, his brain did not include the appropriate synapses for such a desire.

Charlie was, however, programmed quite suitably for his position as Liaison to Wellbeing. A human would have thought this nothing more than a fancy name for a glorified janitor, but to Charlie, it was everything. He would walk up and down sterile white halls in the sterile white building that housed thousands of humans in 10×10 rooms. Inside these rooms, the humans would sit or lay, exercise or eat according to their bodies’ needs. The humans were on autopilot – quite literally – and Charlie was tasked with making sure that the humans in Building 314, Floor 15 were functioning properly while their minds were away.

The human body operated best on nine hours of sleep. Each body was slightly different, of course, but the right mixture of nutrients could get anyone and everyone into the similar rhythms. The human body also required daily activity to keep the muscles properly toned. Peak physical condition allowed for peak mental states, boosting the processing power of each individual central processing unit, thereby boosting the power of The Hive’s capabilities.

As in any system, there were occasional hiccups. As Charlie paced his floor, he kept sharp eye on the red, yellow and green indicators on each white door. Green meant the bodies were in a resting, relaxed state. Yellow meant that the bodies were either eating or exercising – the two most dangerous activities a human being could perform. Red signaled an emergency, usually meaning that a body’s swallow reflex had engaged before its food was properly masticated, or a foot had come down improperly during a treadmill session. Charlie would enter these rooms, save the human if he could and put them right again. On a rare occasion – the rarest, really – a human body would short circuit. A heart’s valve would malfunction, or brain would have what was known as an aneurysm. In such instances, Charlie would tote their bodies to the morgue on the ninth floor. What happened to them there, Charlie was not programmed to question.

Twenty-three days

I keep dreaming of people dying.

I saved your soul in a coffee mug

And drank you with a little cream

You were always sweet enough.

.

It reminds me how I never asked

How you’re doing, only hoped you’re doing well

While pouring declarations down your drain and saying

I’m sorry. Hope you don’t mind. I can’t help myself, I can’t help myself, just look at what your doing to me.

And this dream comes, and I’ve got 23 days to tell you, 23 days to say I’m selfish, 23 days to say I’m stepping out of my own way and asking

How are you? Where are you, even? Did you find what you were looking for? Did it find you?

.

I keep dreaming of people dying.

I keep dreaming of finding myself crying in the hall of that old apartment building above the river where we sat watching the water trickle through the dam.

I keep dreaming this was all real and that I ran away from it, that I ran away from you because I was always doing the chasing, and all I wanted was to be chased in return, to feel a hand pull at my shoulder and a voice to ask me –

.

I keep dreaming of people dying of old age, of regret, of sadness and happiness and boredom and delight.

I keep dreaming that I’ll outlive you all, but we both know that’s a lie.

.

I keep dreaming of people dying, and every one of them makes me think of you,

like a tangled ball of string in the corner of a closet I haven’t opened in a decade

still just sitting there waiting for me to pick it up and tie more knots.

.

And here, I’m doing it again. I’m telling instead of asking, and see? Didn’t I tell you? I cannot help myself. Even in the face of death.

I heard you say once –

While I was taking a breath from all my talking

That you only ever wanted love,

And I thought that my cue.

.

I keep dreaming of people dying, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if they do. It doesn’t matter if I cry. It doesn’t matter if I feel anything at all.

.

How are you?

Time Travel in Fiction: Why Over How

Auston Habershaw

After having a conversation with my agent the other day, I’ve decided my next novel project is going to be time travel based. I wasn’t really planning to write this particular novel at this particular time, but he feels its the best career move right now and that’s basically what I’m paying the guy for – his advice – so why wouldn’t I take it? Anyway, the point here is that I’ve been thinking (a lot) about time travel in stories today and I want to share some of my ramblings.

One of the questions I’ve gotten recently is how the character in my time travel story is going to travel through time. What are the rules, in other words? Is time linear or non-linear in this story? Are we going to be dealing with the Grandfather Paradox or the Butterfly Effect or what? What about free will? Now, it…

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